How Can We Be Worthy to Stand at Sinai?

I want to begin by wishing you and your family a Shanah Tovah U’Metukah – a good and sweet year.  With the change in seasons and the beginnings of school, it truly feels as though a new time is beginning.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are significant days as we begin this process of introspection through prayer and reflection to renew ourselves and feel the freshness of life in all its textures, colors, and sounds. It is a time to think about where we have been we are now, and where we hope to be in the days, months and years ahead.

Let me begin by describing a significant event that occurred.  This past December, the Trustees of Dartmouth College, Dartmouth College Hillel, and Kol Haemek: The Upper Valley Jewish Community, entered into an historic agreement with the Memorial Scroll Trust Company of London, England.  We agreed to be trustees of a Torah Scroll that survived the Shoah (Holocaust).  Originally dedicated in 1861, this sacred scroll was housed in the synagogue of Brno, Czechoslovakia.  There it stayed and became part of the Jewish community for eighty years, until our ancestors who lived there were destroyed.  Somehow, perhaps miraculously, it endured, while those who lived its teachings perished.

As trustees, we have sent this precious scroll to a sofer, a Torah scribe, for full restoration with the approval of the Memorial Scroll Trust.  On two separate weekends, one for Kol Haemek: The UVJC and the other for Dartmouth, we will celebrate its return and settling in its new home in the Ark of the Alperin Sanctuary at the Roth Center for Jewish Life.  For Kol Haemek, the celebration will be the weekend of March 22 through March 25th.  For Dartmouth, it will be April 20 through April 22.

The question that I want us to consider, beginning with the High Holy Days and continuing through to the weekends of its dedication is the following:

Just as the Torah is undergoing a repair and will be ritually fit (kosher), how can we ready ourselves and thus be made worthy to receive this Torah as God entrusted it to our ancestors who stood at Sinai and those who later lived and breathed its teachings in the Jewish Community of Brno, Czechoslovakia?

I hope that this will help allow us to reflect on the meaning of our faith and to those eternal teachings that all so deeply cherish. Discuss it with your family, friends, or anyone who might provide some measure of guidance. Please respond either to rabbi@dartmouth.edu or 1-603-646-0361.  I will share these throughout the High Holy Day period with our community.

I want to wish you שנה טובה תכתבו and a שנה טובה ומטוקה – may you be written in the Book of Life and may the coming year of 5778 be one that is sweet, filled with happiness, joy, and fulfillment.

L’shalom,

Rabbi Edward S. Boraz, Ph.D.